Committee provides Defence Review overview

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The main tasks of the South African National Defence Force are to conduct peacekeeping operations and protect South Africa’s coastline and its land border, according to Roelf Meyer, Chair of the 2012 Defence Review Committee, who yesterday gave a briefing on the Defence Review at the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria.

“The defence force exists to play a fundamental role in society,” said Nick Sendall, Resource Group, Defence Review Committee. He added that the defence force contributes to the national security and foreign policy objectives of South Africa. These objectives include sovereignty and regional and continental security.

Sendall said that the security of Africa is necessary for the security of South Africa – for instance, the ability to safely use the sea is one of South Africa’s national interests. As such, peacekeeping is a core component of the defence force. “The first defence review took a conservative approach to peace missions,” Sendall said, with the anticipation that no more than a battalion would be deployed at a time. However, with deployments in the Comores, Central African Republic, Burunid, Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere, soon several battalions were being deployed at a time. “The small contributions to peacekeeping were overtaken by events.”

Sendall noted that the first defence review of 1998 had a narrow, transformation focus in the wake of the transition to democracy. It addressed transformation and the normalisation of security relations in the Southern African Region post-1994. It attempted to provide the first policy foundations for a “Defence in a Democracy”.
“Now we need to move beyond that. We’re trying to ascertain and stipulate what government requires the defence force to do,” Sendall said.

The 2012 Defence Review covers several areas, including the constitutional mandate, South Africa’s international obligations and work that government expects the defence force to do.

Sendall explained that the Defence Review is not just limited to high-level policy and strategy but also focuses on defence doctrine, defence structural arrangements and accounting for resources provided.

There are several main principles guiding the Defence Review. The first relates to its image as a professional, trusted national asset; the second relates to accountability and compliancy with national and international law; the third covers the defence force’s defensive posture with offensive capabilities, the fourth expects the defence force to be a balanced, modern, flexible and technologically advanced force able to fulfil multiple roles, the fifth requires strong leadership and professionalism, which requires skilled, healthy, fit and disciplined members led by competent, ethical and dynamic leaders; the sixth principle states that the defence force should be organised into combat formations with clear distinction between command and staff functions; and finally the defence force will contribute to national development by creating the security conditions necessary for development to take place. The last principle goes on to say that the defence force may be required to intervene in order to meet national priorities. It is also a provider of last resort during times of national disaster, national emergency or civil turbulence.

Sendall provided an overview of the Defence Review document. Chapter 1 discusses the Committee’s mandate, the requirement for a new Defence Review, the role of defence policy in the national policy framework and the principles underpinning the 2012 review.

Chapter 2 provides an understanding of South Africa: its people, politics, economy, legal system and challenges, such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, crime and education, and the role the defence force can play in a developmental state.

Chapter 3 gives an overview of the global, continental, regional and domestic security environments and their relevance to South Africa.

In Chapter 4, defence spending on the global, African and sub-regional levels is analysed, while South African defence spending over the last fifty years is examined.

A national security strategy is articulated in Chapter 5, and the defence force’s contribution to the South African National Security Construct.

Chapter 6 looks at the defence force’s mandate in terms of the constitution and is unpacked into a defence mission, five strategic goals and 15 defence tasks. The five goals are:
– The defence and protection of South Africa, its people and important national interests.
– The safeguarding of South Africa and its people through aspects such as border safeguarding, supporting the police service and fulfilling South Africa’s treaty obligations.
– The defence contribution to South Africa’s international agenda and the promotion of regional and continental peace and stability.
– Supporting civil authority in times of crisis, need or turmoil, and the Defence contribution to South Africa’s developmental priorities.
– The civil control over defence and the accountable utilisation of defence resources.

Chapter 7 of the review examines possibilities for future conflict on land, in the air, at sea, in space and in the information sphere. Future defence contingencies are also identified.

Chapter 8 of the review examines what level of force is needed for each task. “If our goals and tasks are set, they shouldn’t change often,” Sendall said. “What should change is the level of effort expended on each task.” The scale of effort required will be the fundamental basis for the development of the force design.

In light of the level of effort required, Chapter 9 looks at guidelines for defence force design, including the requirements for the South African Army, Air Force, Navy, Military Health Service and Special Forces.

The future organisation of the defence force is examined in Chapter 10. A fundamental digression from the earlier model is outlined in Chapter 10, which is the proposal that the Ministry of Defence be expanded. Furthermore, this chapter proposes the establishment of a Defence Service Commission and Defence Ombud. In addition, the Review proposes the establishment of a Defence Material Organisation, an Independent Tender Board, a Defence Estates Agency, a Defence Heritage Agency and a revised Reserve Force Council.

It is important to note that the Defence Review does not express itself on the Defence Force Design or the Defence Force Structure. The Chief of the Defence Force will develop a Blueprint Force Design and Force Structure in a subsequent process.

A number of interventions are posited in Chapter 11, based on what the Committee saw during its diagnostic and orientation process between June and October last year. Some of these interventions include the establishment of an integrated information sharing system, primarily for maintenance, stocktaking etc. and the improvement of the disciplinary system, which, according to Sendall, is failing.

Chapter 12 proposes high-level strategies for defence resources, relating to the management of defence personnel, logistics, information, finances and facilities.

Chapter 13 covers the defence industry, future procurement and focus areas. Defence analyst Helmoed Heitman, who helped draft the Review, explained the contents of the chapter, saying that the Review admits that the local defence industry is not in good shape, partly because the SANDF does not have much funding for local purchases, and in some cases spent money on foreign equipment.

Heitman said there is a need for the industry to be independent as having a strong local defence industry leads to job creation, keeps expenditure within South Africa, offers the possibility of foreign exports and allows for the development of optimised equipment. Chapter 13 is still an open chapter and will receive input from the industry.
“The consultation process is very important for us,” said Roelf Meyter, Chair of the Defence Review Committee. He said that the Committee still has to complete its consultations with the SANDF and the Chief of the SANDF. He said the review process was intended to take a consultative process into a consensus.

The draft Defence Review 2012 was made public on April 12. A number of consultation events are being conducted in the period leading up to the Minister’s Budget Vote on May 17. The Defence Review Committee is now holding provincial forums and stakeholder engagements until the end of June 2012 throughout South Africa.

The timeline for the Defence Review is as follows:

Phase 1: Diagnostic and Orientation Process (July – October 2011).

Phase 2: Definition of Thematic Areas and determination of the Document Architecture (first half of October 2011).

Phase 3: Drafting of the Consultative Document (Mid-October 2011 – March 2012).

Phase 4: Document Review and Refinement (March – April 2012).

Phase 5: Public release of the Document (12 April 2012).

Phase 6: Public engagement (18 April – end June 2012).

Phase 7: Prepare Final Document (July – August 2012).

Phase 8: Formal approval process (August – September 2012).